I Love Cake!!!
I can’t believe that I started Million Dollar Ninja 365 days ago. Time does go by fast when you are having fun!
I started this blog as a way of keeping track of my progress towards reaching financial independence and as a reference for my friends and family to do the same. I knew it was going to be challenging coming up with topics to write about, but I had no idea it was going to be this much fun.
I also did not know that I was going to be virtually meeting so many cool, like-minded people in the personal finance blogosphere. But the thing that still surprises me is the thought that thousands of people – not friends of mine – have stopped by this website to check out what I have to say.
To everyone that have taken some time out of their busy schedule to pay Million Dollar Ninja a visit: Thank You.
Top of the Mountain!
The events portrayed in the following post occurred from March 27th to March 30th. The reason I’m only posting now is because I’ve been lazy to write any blog posts… Don’t judge, this is something I’m working on.
Spring is here and to me it means one thing… Spring Skiing!
I like to ski, but I don’t like skiing when it is -1,000 degrees outside. Having to wear 77 layers and having frozen toes – and frozen snot – is not an enjoyable time for me. That’s why we like to go skiing in March.
We live in New Jersey, which means we don’t really have any mountains worth skiing. Whenever we want to go skiing we go to Pennsylvania, but even there the skiing is just meh. Our best option in the East Coast is Vermont, and that’s why we decided to make an annual ski trip to Vermont.
I’m Sexy and I Know It!
Have you ever thought, “finances are so sexy”?
I have never been one to put finances and sexiness together, but Ally Bank conducted a survey that did just that.
Ally Bank’s Love & Money study asked 1,007 adults what was the most appealing financial habit in a significant other. The result might surprise some of you, it sure surprised me.
The responses were divided into four major groups: Attracted to those who have higher credit card limits and like finer goods; those who are bargain hunters and thrifty; those who pay-as-you-go to avoid any kind of debt; and those with strong budgeting and saving strategies.
Piggy Bank Will Be So Happy!!!
Yes, you read that right. I am officially debt free!
It probably has been over 10 years since I have been able to say that statement, but I can finally say it once more. In fact, I’m going to say it again… I AM DEBT FREE!!!
It feels really good to be debt free. Now I know that any extra money that I have will go towards my savings and maybe, just maybe, I might be able to reach early retirement… early-ish.
The beautiful thing about all of this is that I did in less time than I have initially predicted.
Pay Your Taxes!
Last week I discussed some ideas on how you could spend your tax refund wisely. I mentioned I get a tax refund even though some financial experts consider this to be a bad financial move.
The consensus among those experts is, “tax refunds are for suckers!” Gee, sorry we’re not all suck-less like you, Señor Perfect – I’m assuming they are all men because ladies are nice and they don’t call other people suckers. A little pandering never hurt anybody.
Getting a tax refund means that we overpaid our taxes and the government is giving us our change back… after 12 months. It is like giving the government a loan without earning any interest on that loan.
Instead, we should adjust our withholdings so that we pay just enough taxes to come out even. This means more money on our paycheck, which could be used for something else rather than have the government hold on to it.
And those financial experts are absolutely right.
However, the fact that they are right doesn’t mean that those of us who prefer a refund are suckers. I’m not a financial expert, but I can see pros and cons to both: getting a tax refund and changing your withholdings to break even.
Enjoy Your Refund!
Tax season is here and to many of us that means one thing… Tax Refund!
I know there’s a debate whether we should be getting a refund or changing our withholdings to get more on our paychecks, but that’s a discussion for a different time. Let’s not rain on anyone’s parade and let us enjoy our refund for now.
We all enjoy getting a tax refund. It feels like we just won a scratch-off. One of the reasons we love tax refunds so much is because we like to spend money and this is extra money that we can spend freely… or so I thought.
I used to buy all kinds of stuff with my tax refund – I bought my motorcycle with my tax refund – and it felt good for a few weeks.
That good feeling slowly faded when all that money was gone and I still had debt and almost nothing saved.
If this sounds familiar, here are a few suggestions on what you can do with your tax refund that makes you feel good for a long time.
Pay Yourself First
Last week I read about Ronald Read, a Vermont gas station attendant and janitor who was able to stockpile an $8 million fortune. He passed away last year at the age of 92, but very few people knew he had that kind of money. That is until a couple of weeks ago when he left most of his estate to his local hospital and library.
Mr. Read left $4.8 million to the hospital and $1.2 million to the library.
According to reports, he was a very humble person who drove a second-hand Toyota Yaris and who never splurged except on a daily cup of coffee and an English muffin with peanut butter at the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.
You Heard Me
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and I can already see all the guys scrambling and trying to come up with something that makes them look like a good boyfriend/husband.
I know this is not going to win me any votes, but I really don’t like Valentine’s Day.
I just don’t like the materialistic aspect of it. We have to buy even more stuff for our loved ones? I thought that’s what Christmas was for. Speaking of Christmas, most people are still broke from Christmas and now HAVE to spend more money to show their partner how much they love them.
But let’s put the HAVING to buy something aside for a minute and let me tell you of all the other reasons why I don’t like Valentine’s Day.
Your Teeth Are Important
Our teeth are a pretty integral part in our survival as human beings. They help us with digestion by allowing us to chew food so we can eat more things other than just “mush.” If we don’t properly maintain out teeth, it can lead to tooth decay and eventually tooth loss. This can hinder our ability to chew a variety of foods.
Our teeth also help us with our speech. Speech is affected by the way our teeth meet and by the movement of our tongue around our teeth.
Our teeth also help us trim our nails and open beer bottles – okay, don’t do either of those with your teeth – and they help us become approachable and find a mate by showing our teeth to people in a non-creepy way.
Can myRA help?
We know about traditional IRAs and Roth-IRAs, but what is a myRA? myRA is a new government-backed retirement account. Last year, President Obama asked the United States Department of Treasury to create a new form of retirement account that could be used as a “starter” account for low and middle-income Americans who don’t have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans.
The program is not really designed to be your only form of retirement account, but a stepping stone towards start saving for retirement.
How Does myRA Work?
myRA works in a similar fashion as a Roth-IRA in which all contributions are made after taxes, and withdrawals are tax free. Contributions are invested in a United States Treasury security, which means you never lose your contributions. The U.S. Treasury security earns interest at the same variable rate as the Thrift Savings Plan‘s (TSP) Government Securities Investment Fund.
This is a safe way to save for retirement, but it also means that the rewards are low. The average annual rate of return for this fund over the ten year period of December 2003 and December 2013 was 3.39%.
These returns are better than having your money in a savings account, but not better than investing in index mutual funds. However, you can lose your money investing in index mutual funds, which is not the case when investing in TSPs.